Archive for September, 2013

Ansar al Sharia in Libya Criticizes Muslim Brotherhood

On Aug. 20, Ansar al Sharia in Libya released a statement that criticized the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt for participating in the democratic process, and for failing to implement sharia, or Islamic law. The statement, which was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, is very similar to criticisms leveled by al Qaeda’s emir, Ayman al Zawahiri, and by Shabaab, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia.

North Korea Likely Testing More Rocket Engines

North Korea more than likely tested a long-range rocket engine late last month, according to analysis of new satellite imagery over the site.

In the photos released by 38 North, a blog run by the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, indicators of a probable test are seen through the presence of a probable rocket stage, propellant tanks, as well as the appearance of burned vegetation around the launch stand.

The photos were taken between August 25 and 30.

“These are not in and of themselves indicators that there is going to be a rocket test six months from now,” Joel Wit, a former North Korea specialist at the State Department who is now with 38 North, told CNN about the photos.

It is not clear from the photos, Wit said, whether the test was for the second stage of the Unha-3 rocket, which North Korea used in a successful launch test last December, or whether it was a test for a stage of another larger rocket.

The Great Shift in Search

Search is evolving to fit the needs of users who don’t just want a web site, but the actual answer to the question driving the search. To stay on top semantic search technologies are key.

The ongoing list of failed search engine companies is deep and wide. Remember the likes of Excite, Lycos, or AskJeeves? Search companies that have evolved with the times and requests of their users, have thrived while those long-dead companies failed due to lost profits or because of acquisitions that changed the framework of their original offerings.

Did you know that Google’s founders were willing to sell the company to Excite’s CEO at the time for less than $1 million? An offer he happened to refuse. Would search have transitioned to a primary topic in the board room had that offer gone through?

Although Google is one of the world’s largest companies with close to a 70 percent market share in search, it must still continue to evolve lest it join the search dead pool. Looking at it and at Microsoft, we can clearly see where search technology is going from here.

Al Qaeda Ramps Up Attacks in Iraq

As the world focuses on the Syrian civil war, the use of chemical weapons, and the rise of al Qaeda and Islamist groups, the resurgence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which is al Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, is going largely unnoticed. Violence in Iraq has spiked this year, with a wave of suicide bombings, car bombings, and armed attacks. As al Qaeda focuses energy on Syria, it certainly hasn’t left Iraq behind.

Al Qaeda clearly has the resources to carry out attacks such as today’s, in which five suicide bombers and a multitude of car bombs were used. One attack included a suicide assault team against a police special forces base in Bayji. The al Qaeda fighters entered the perimeter of the base before being gunned down. From Russia Today:

The first bomb exploded next to a tent full of mourners in the Shiite neighborhood. Shortly after, a suicide bomber detonated his device while driving a car near the funeral-goers. A third bomb exploded as police and ambulances arrived at the scene.
“Crowds of people were visiting the tent to offer their condolences when suddenly a powerful blast…threw me to ground,” said 35-year-old Basim Raheem.

Users Sue LinkedIn Over Harvesting of E-Mail Addresses

Four LinkedIn users have filed a lawsuit accusing the business-oriented social network of accessing their e-mail accounts without permission, harvesting the addresses of their contacts and spamming those people with repeated invitations to join the service.

LinkedIn is “breaking into” external e-mail accounts, like Gmail or Yahoo Mail, by pretending to be the account owner

In their most explosive claim, the plaintiffs say that LinkedIn is “breaking into” external e-mail accounts, like Gmail or Yahoo Mail, by pretending to be the account owner, although the legal complaint offers no details about that assertion. Larry Russ, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, declined to comment beyond the suit.

The lawsuit, which is seeking damages on behalf of all LinkedIn users, revives a longstanding issue about the service: Does LinkedIn adequately inform its users about how it uses sensitive information, including e-mail addresses of everyone they know, and get their consent to do so?

RSA Tells Its Developer Customers: Stop Using NSA-Linked Algorithm

Amidst all of the confusion and concern over an encryption algorithm that may contain an NSA backdoor, RSA Security released an advisory to developer customers today noting that the algorithm is the default in one of its toolkits and strongly advising them to stop using the algorithm.

The advisory provides developers with information about how to change the default to one of a number of other random number generator algorithms RSA supports and notes that RSA has also changed the default on its end in BSafe and in an RSA key management system.

The company is the first to go public with such an announcement in the wake of revelations by theNew York Times that the NSA may have inserted an intentional weakness in the algorithm — known as Dual Elliptic Curve Deterministic Random Bit Generation (or Dual EC DRBG) — and then used its influence to get the algorithm added to a national standard issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The Syria Crisis and North Korea

The unraveling of the Syrian drama has suddenly brought attention to an unexpected culprit: North Korea. But if you give it a second thought, that should not be surprising given the US’ vision of the world as a stand-off between good guys and bad guys. North Koreans are near the top of the latter list and it would be only natural to emphasize the wickedness of the Assad regime by highlighting its cooperation with Pyongyang. It is true that traditional military cooperation between the two has flourished for a long time. Until recently, this cooperation was one of the most advanced of Pyongyang’s military ties with its clients, which included Iran, Libya and also many African states. Syria has been one of North Korea’s closest allies for decades. I remember when serving as a Russian diplomat in Pyongyang in the 1970s and 1980s, I was sometimes mistaken by the service personnel in hotels and shops as being “Syrian” when saying I was “Soryon” (Soviet), testifying to the brisk exchanges between the two countries. However, the present stress on the link between the two “rogue states” seems a bit artificial. Some commentators even call the two countries “a real axis of evil,”[1] prompting suspicion of a “hidden agenda.”

Data Protection: This Tweet Will Self-Destruct In…

The permanence of social media such as tweets presents an important challenge for data protection and privacy. This is particularly true when social media is used to communicate during crises. Indeed, social media users tend to volunteer personal identifying information during disasters that they otherwise would not share, such as phone numbers and home addresses. They typically share this sensitive information to offer help or seek assistance. What if we could limit the visibility of these messages after their initial use?